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George C. Salley

George C. Salley

Born February 1, 1933, in Atmore, Ala., and died November 16 in Middlesex County, George Callier Salley led a renaissance life. He was intrigued with all things mechanical. Starting at an early age, he maintained and raced an old Ford in Norfolk. His next adventure was joining the Army at age 17 during the Korean War, training as a paratrooper, and assigned to Battery B, 89th AFA Battalion, 11th Airborne Division.

After leaving the Army he attended the University of Virginia, became a member of Sigma Chi fraternity, which he loved, and graduated in 1958 with a BA in philosophy. During this time he met Betty Atkeson. A witness said the meeting proved love at first sight does happen. They were married for 55 years.

He was employed by NASA and entered the computer age. While at NASA he worked on the Apollo and Viking projects as well as the start of the space station. He learned to fly and had an airplane. Upon becoming interested in sailing he swapped the plane for a small schooner. He founded Sea Explorer Scout Group 38 using his schooner, “Gallons Lap.” They sailed to New York City in 1976, participating in the Tall Ships Parade of Sail for the Bi-Centennial, representing the Commonwealth of Virginia. He also was a sailing instructor for the U.S. Naval Academy and with a crew of Midshipmen sailed the Newport to Bermuda race. His dedication to Boy Scouts from 1973 to 1985 was recognized and he was awarded the Silver Beaver.

Among his other interests, he learned the concertina, joined a Sea Shanty Group, edited a magazine for concertinas, and recorded a Sea Songs album. George enjoyed being a HAM radio operator, KA4FVB. As ever the sea called to him, in 1985 he was selected to be the captain of the replica “Godspeed.” He commanded the ship from England, sailing across the Atlantic to St. Thomas.

George was a member of both ASTA and The Corinthians. After retirement he built a 42-foot ketch in which he and Betty sailed and lived for six years. They settled briefly at a family farm in Tarboro, N.C., but moved on and built a house in Middlesex County. George became a docent at the Deltaville Maritime Museum.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children, George Callier Salley Jr., William Bryan Salley and Katherine Elizabeth Salley Vittone, five grandchildren, Alexandria, Jessica and Hannah Salley, and Fauster and Kate Vittone.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. William Callier Salley and Katherine Galloway Batts Salley. George’s loyal companion, Clyde the cat, was with him to the last.

A memorial service will be held at Kingston Parish Church, Mathews, on Friday, November 23 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to either the Deltaville Maritime Museum or the Gloucester Humane Society. 

posted 11.19.2012

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